Friday, August 31, 2007


If you are anything like me you feel the pressure of life. There is so much to track, so much to know, so much to attend, so many to help, and so much to discern. Do you ever feel you are about to explode because you can't cure the stresses?

I literally grieve over three kinds of people:
  1. Those who can't find God, but really hunger to know Him.
  2. Those who were raised in some kind of church where their spirits were killed and they now live in resentment and bitterness toward the God of Life and Love.
  3. Those who are poor and find themselves farther behind at the end of every day.

Need. It's everywhere we turn. Much of humanity is bankrupt. I've stood in state prisons where human beings are caged as animals at a zoo. The look in their eyes is disturbing. I grieve. I've sat in cafes in Malibu and watched some of the rich at nearby tables. Their skin is leathery from surfing and their eyes are glazed from drugs. They are present in body and not home in mind. I grieve. I've visited with grown ups who were killed off in churches. They are such a decent sort who didn't survive the rigid rules of sub-doctrinal inflexibility. All of these groups appear they know they are lost. This look haunts me.

The strange, yet good news, is that in the center of this dark grief I find my motivation. The secret to where you can minister best is hidden in the areas you lament most. Being burdened over the burdened is a God-send. If there was ever a time mankind needs strong and powerful voices of hope, now is the time. Yes, I very much feel the pressure of so many in need. Yet, this is the very reason I have a most wonderful job.

You have purpose and meaning in life. A significant segment of our people are oblivious to their most exciting role. I encourage you to take note of the pressures you feel. Those burdens most likely identify your calling. If you hurt over something, I promise you there is a need for ministry in that very spot.

Blessings to you as your heartache unveils your purpose in life.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


I found a T-shirt with a pale picture of an island across the chest; palm trees and water. I like it. A friend said to me last night at church, it looks like you've got you shirt on wrong-side out. The picture seems faded. No, see the tag is inside the back of my collar. When I took my shirt off late last night, sure enough there was this brightly colored picture on the inside. The graphic had been misplaced onto the inside of the shirt. No wonder I got it on the sale rack at Wal-Mart for little money!

Upon investigation I thought maybe I could clip the tag and no one would notice. It won't work. The sleeves and the collar and the hem seams all pooch out if I wear the shirt inside-out for the screened picture to be right. No matter what I do I can't get it right.

Upon further investigation of our regular lives we eventually come to the same conclusion; we can't get it right. Our course is turned inside-out and/or upside down in so many screwy ways we are stumped as to what to do. Adjusted management or recycled approaches seem to offer little improvement. What are we to do with us? We are backward and tend to live faded.

First, don't look for solutions on the bargain racks at the Quick-Fix-It mall. The more we turn our lives in and out the more frustrated we will become. Second, go for the complete solution. Jesus is the Savior of this mess. Church isn't. Self-help books aren't. Massaged self-esteem simply becomes more demanding. Jesus is the beauty of real life.

Anyone can find him, but not on the bargain rack. He's found once hanging on the most expensive rack and the cost is immeasurable. That's how valuable God believes you to be. You are no bargain. You are very expensive and God made the full purchase with no discount that your life might be right-side out and beautifully tags, no seams showing.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


If tough love is needed at times, how about tough hope? Abraham had hope against hope and proceeded to believe.

Dusty called me yesterday afternoon. Crystal began a new third grade teaching job in their huge Arkansas public school system. She taught at another elementary school the past two years. In the transfer they also moved their two boys from yet another school to go with her to the same new school within a block of their house. This all began last week.

Yesterday Crystal was informed that she was being involuntarily transferred to yet another school far across town to teach first grade. Dusty called me to say, You may want to call Crystal tonight and give her your Terry talk. He went on to explain the superintendent is new on the job and has been handed a tough assignment as the school system is millions of dollars in debt. He has the trying task to trim everywhere he can to temporarily keep a sinking ship afloat. Due to necessary pruning, he's not popular.

I reminded Dusty of this perfect soul winning opportunity. This new superintendent needs to hear of Dusty's immediate support by letting him, who just pulled the rug from beneath Crystal's stable footing, know he has the Rush's sympathy and understanding. I shared with Dusty that if the man were to hear from him because Crystal just got a raise it would be lightly impactful. But to hear from a husband whose wife just took a hit and find support in that conversation....well, that would open wonderful opportunities for kingdom matters to proceed.

Dusty emailed the man immediately expressing their personal pain; yet, complete support of such a bold move. The superintendent called him within fives minutes thanking him and expressing his need to go to lunch one day soon. I talked with Crystal last night. She shed only a few tears, but mostly expressed her understanding.....and I guess maybe we did find places to laugh.....a lot!

I encourage you about your day. Diamonds show up best against dark backdrops. Shine all the time. Be sure of a sturdy truth about your day: you never shine brighter than when pinned against dark and gloomy backdrops. Even when something is going wrong....something better is going right. Those are the rich moments calling for tough hope.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Men debate. Verbal scuffles disturb the camp. Defensiveness builds. Dividing lines are drawn. Minds are set. Next, opportunities and possibilities find themselves with fewer champions. Where states argue for churches to be separate from politics, it is the church which suffers from politics' unwelcome intrusion.

Truth is claimed by all sides. Neither Wyatt Earp nor Matt Dillon faced so many duels on main street. The great temptation is to play it safe and withdraw from debate. But we can't. It isn't about who's right. The battle is over Who being right. Jesus is our right-eousness. We cannot afford to slip into ecumenical uselessness. It isn't that some are right and all others are wrong. The truth is we are all wrong and only Jesus is right. This truth seems to go unheralded.

To cover our irresponsible denial that we might have just a few things wrong, we mount an offensive by hiding in the three (or five) things we believe to be truth. From there we take our stand. Yet, within said ranks Truth will peck away at the consciences of faithful men and women. They will begin to question the present stance as they begin to wonder if the Word really does say things like it's wrong to have garage sales, it's wrong to sing during communion, etc.

The big question intended to shut down all questions is usually, Where will this lead? This usually extracts the teeth from the lion-hearted. But there is often an answer to that question which carries positive faithfulness. It just might lead to the truth. It will lead to freedom to do things in the kingdom which bossy-butts had deemed unbiblical because their parents didn't approve.

What is the this in the big question? Freedom. And, just where will this lead? It will lead to keeping our young people in the church. It will lead to intense love of God. It will lead to confidence to try again after horrendous failure. It will lead to expectation of the God of mercy to accept each of us. It will lead to meaningful respect for the simple Word rather than frustration and confusion over what the church says the Word says when it doesn't say it.

The big question is intended to buckle the knees of young faith. Howard Macey said, The spiritual life cannot be made suburban. It is always frontier, and we who live in it must accept and even rejoice that it remains untamed. The sacrifice of courage upon the taming altar of strong-armed tradition has killed off many hearts who simply wanted to serve God; yet, they couldn't keep jumping through the strange church hoops.

The question to stop all questions need not be eliminated. It's not an unwise question. The problem with it is when it is used as a bully's whip to shut down the freedom of truth Jesus anticipated for us. Therefore, even the big question deserves the freedom to be asked. But it needs a passionate drive for hope, rather than the usual cringing of fear when presented.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


What's going on with Christianity: yours, mine, and ours? I wonder if the Great Commission has been hijacked. While many congregations (including where I reside) emphasize some outreach, there is magnanimous and united focus on the part of general Christianity to see that we do church right. Translation? Churches are doing and saying biblical things inside of our unbiblical church buildings at the expense of setting God's front-burner goal on the back burner. Considering the most basic believer, how much of his time and meaning involve (not a hint of outgoing, but) choosing up sides for the perpetual religious tug-o-war of Which kind of church does the most things right?

Abe Lincoln (not the President but a Christian leader from Lubbock) sat in a meeting with elders and me one Saturday afternoon to help us wade through church philosophy and standards (arguments). He made a statement I could not understand at the time. Eventually I realized his profound, yet seeming backward, observation. He said that our doctrines will change when we take our faith out into the community. My thought was, If truth is the truth, why would it change on the street? That's still a good question and I've discovered the answer.

Until the church takes the Good News out, it has nowhere to arise to its intended purpose. The Good News is designed to bring life to the lifeless, hope to the poor, and recovery to the sabotaged. When boarded up within church walls, eventually the good news becomes merely a topic for monotonous debate with undertones to most members of, This ain't ever going to go anywhere. Quarter upon quarter and decade upon decade we keep circling the same protective wagons, while avoiding the adventurous trail of purpose and meaningful service toward others.

As a result, churches have shifted His message of hope to theirs of a lesser standard. Come join us and let's go nowhere together! has become the weak word toward a pleading-for-something-which-could-help society. Churches (all brands and shapes) have sucked the air out of His great commission and, therefore, have been forced to scramble for something (anything) of substitutional interest.

Can the drive of the church be re-inflated? Absolutely. We have a wonderful future in our presence! From experience I can attest to the accuracy of Abe Lincoln's bewildering comments. Every time we make a move into any community to offer hope rather than distancing judgment, our doctrine of what we really count to be meaningful arises. Jesus was on target. If we will lose our lives for the sake of others, we'll discover ourselves coming alive. If, however, we sit in church houses and play-it-safe we will find the air going out of our faith. Eventually, we will not be able to breathe. Finally, as Jesus promised, we will die.

Got life? Want to give life? Put some air back into your faith. Buy a barefoot child a pair of shoes. Stand in line at McDonalds and buy a poor family a warm breakfast. Acknowledge a toothless old woman who walks as if she doesn't have a friend in the world. Look outwardly. See people in need. Risk. Replace judgmental rolling of the eyes with extending helping hands in a community which so needs someone, just one someone, to applaud.

Friday, August 24, 2007


Any debate as to whether God exists saddens me. How illegitimate of any man to doubt the Beautiful One's existence. The authenticity of the Creator: His role, His purpose, His style need not submit to super-ambitioned whims or disproportioned boastings of the created. Yet, such a contest continues.

I'm reading a book, god is not Great, by Christopher Hitchens. It's a mis-titled work. believers are not Great, is the more accurate assessment, but Hitchens takes our noticeable absurdities and transposes them onto to God as if our bumblings were a divine iron-on patch of sorts. Hitchens' estimation of Christianity's many pitfalls has misled him to conclude God, Himself, is a sham. His own intelligence betrays him. Value is in the writings as it will bolster faith; the very thing he had intended to undermine.

Hitchens places extreme confidence in man's wisdom. He pits man's intelligence against the backdrop of what he passionately desires to regard as our flimsy faith. He has credentials galore; yet, his inability to know God is revealing as to his own mere foolishness. Didn't God have something to say along that line in First Corinthians 1:20-31?

We are to conclude from the book God is only god....and completely made up in the imagination of the mind at that. According to this very biased author, science is supposed to have proven God to be a folklore and faulty god. However, from faith's perspective it seems science's fascinating purpose ought to more accurately give estimate and observation to creation. It cannot arise to the level of Creator. GOD fulfills that role alone.

Science is to detect life, not provide nor invent it. We are most blessed by its continual and immense discoveries. We are most endangered when man tries to impose science's brilliance by asserting it is man's newest god. Science will never track down nor explain the Immeasureable Living God of the world. It will forever be limited to just now finding out yet another host of undiscovered discoveries God had hidden all along....even from the most bizarrely brilliant.....because God is so Clever the cleverest cannot detect by a mere fraction of a percent of Him after all of these centuries!

That's my opinion. How do you see it?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I had an opportunity a few years back to join area pastors in a special meeting with Jim Cymbala who had flown in from New York. Jim is the pastor of the famous Brooklyn Tabernacle; a church he began with 25 members thirty-five years ago and today reaches the 10,000 number. His three books Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire and Fresh Power and Fresh Faith may have crossed your desk over the past ten years. Under his wife's leadership the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir has gained world fame.

What kind of person and personality would you assume Cymbala (pronounced Sim'-ball-a) to be? From his writings I felt I would meet one special servant of God. I was right on target. It was a joy to interact with him.

After a few of us had waited about twenty minutes, two or three men entered a small hall adjacent to a huge sanctuary in Broken Arrow. Two entered crisply dressed and with flambouyant cadence. The third entered in a drab suit, white shirt, and plain tie. I was correct. The latter was the man of the hour. If Cymbala appeared reserved he was even more shy. As he spoke to us about leadership, he was soft spoken; yet direct. He had strong marks of being a vessel but not a star. He was a bright light with zero glare.

However when he addressed a packed house of thousands some two hours later, again he was as I had envisioned. When this nobody special stepped up to the mic he still was not a yeller nor a star, but he surely had profound command of our attention because he spoke as if he had spent time with God. His message was simple, basic, and biblical. He mixed mild humor with compassionate pleas for us to adhere to the heart of the one Lord Jesus.

The special part I got from that evening was not what I heard Jim Cymbala voice. It's what I saw his demeanor say. It said, Whether famous or common, the Spirit of God will work from the hearts of men and women who will trust Him over themselves. It's been nearly four years now since that evening. I've not forgotten the message of hope I saw in a man who began ministry spooked and scared to hardly try.

God works. He uses people just like you; like me. We live a most privileged life. Don't faint at the task ahead. God isn't looking for conquerers. He's looking for any who believe He's already conquered....Romans 8:37. I give you a vote of confidence today. You are special. Spend time with God. We have a world to reach.


Bob and I happened to show up for coffee at the same time every morning. He sold used cars. Along with other locals, we had enjoyed this routine for over a decade. Another of the dozen or so who gathered for the day's caffeine jump-start was Ken. He was a moody man in his late 40s. Everyone knew everyone and we regularly Howdy and How are ya'd one another. The coffee version of Cheers is duplicated across America as an important thread of society.

One morning grouchy Ken announced for all to hear, as Bob I were perched to his far right at the end of the counter, There are two kinds of people I can't stand: car salesmen and preachers. Whoops! I may be slow, but I think I just got busted. I looked at Bob and whispered, That's the first time I've ever heard that. How about you?, and we both smiled. I had studied Ken for some time. I really liked the man, but he seemed to live on irritability's edge.

A few days later we were the only two in for coffee; Ken sitting in the center of the row along the counter and me at my usual residence at the end of the horseshoe. It occurred to me what was eating at him. His misery dangled from his sleeves. As I moved over beside him, he muttered some acknowledgement of my presence. I said, Ken, I know what's wrong with you. Oh, yeah? What? I've figured it out. You are afraid to die. There was slight pause and then, covering his face with both hands, Ken gushed into tears. He bawled like a baby.

Ken poured out his heart informing me of severe heart abnormalities and, indeed, he was scared. We had a lengthy conversation as I assured him I understood. He simply needed someone to listen; whether it be a car salesman or a preacher. Two weeks later a sixteen year old boy called my house. Are you Mr. Rush? inquired the young man. Yes. Well, I'm calling because my dad's name is Ken and he just died of a heart attack. The other day he came home from coffee and told my mom that if anything ever happened to him, he met this preacher at the coffee shop that he really liked and he wanted to do his funeral. Would you help us? I gladly assisted the family and officiated at Ken's funeral.

Each of us possesses embedded fears. Most revolve around impending death. Everyone needs someone to care. Advice may not be sought as much as a compassionate ear. We live in wonderful; yet, complex times. Ultimately, even the most boisterous against their perception of religion are afraid to die. Unfortunately, they've sawed off all the God-limbs. Ken wasn't mistaken. Car salesmen and preachers are an odd sort. But don't let us keep you from researching the authentic hope found in the man named Jesus. We men may mislead. He can be trusted.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Christianne Amanpour was Larry King's guest last night hailing her documentary series, The God Warriors. King's additional panelists were a Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leader. Another Christian was interviewed by remote. The two Christian men made Amanpour's point as they could not find much air time in which they did not clearly oppose one another.

Thus it is with each sect. Regarding their call to go by their true "Bible", each division finds battle lines drawn within as unyielding interpretation is disputed. The discussion of war between Jew, Muslim, and Christian is dramatically sabotaged by the shameful glut of in-fighting of each. None can reach the souls they wish for their (our) own obstinate and self-centered determination to render "all others to believe like me".

While I'm not usually a MacArthur fan (See, there even I go in my own discord), he did a superb job of defining the Christian's ultimate role. While MacArthur's view was a clear stance upon Jesus of the Bible, he called for us to rescind our vocal judgment upon mankind and leave that up to the Judge. His noting Jesus' call to put away the sword and awaken to the fact His kingdom is not of this world was a breath of fresh air.

Each religious representative did sound the call for harmony in their united protest of the blatant damage done by the extremists of each party being handed the microphone and given the camera lens of the media. I agree with all three.

I urge you to continue your quiet development in Jesus. Learn to serve in submission to whatever government, whatever political party, whatever slant the powers that be enforce. Christians are dependent neither on who's in office nor what continent they live. Ours is a most confident faith because the Christ was victor while he lived and while he died. We are not dependent on circumstances, votes, nor court decisions. We are to be the embodiment of good news in the center of decadent, corrupt, and shameful blanketing of a negative spewing media. We have a story to tell in the market place....His.

Be consumed with good news and then pass the word along. Our day holds the perfect environment for something positive.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


It's Saturday, a day I usually don't write an article. However, God just placed this on my heart so I'll write for whatever it's worth and leave it through Monday? Maybe? My mind just keeps going back to the dear hearts all over the world which give warmth to their communities. Thus, Global Warming of the sure kind gets notice for the moment.

We hear of government projects (ours and others) which amount to dollar terms of millions, billions, and trillions. Have you ever wondered what the total would be from the generous coffers of Christianity? I'm not discussing "church contributions" here. That's another huge story. I am only drawing attention to benevolent giving. Try to imagine the amount of money given per year by:
  • YOURSELF as you both write out checks to your church or community organizations or simply hand out cash when you see a need when at church or in the marketplace.
  • YOUR FELLOW CHRISTIANS within your congregation doing the same as you.
  • OTHER CHURCHES OF DIFFERENT BRANDS IN YOUR COMMUNITY: individuals and corporate efforts.

I believe the amount to be both significant and immeasurable. Would the dollar amount exceed millions? Billions? Trillions? I believe our government (of which I am not against) may be outdone by the GLOBAL WARMING of the human heart. And, note I have only referred to money. We have yet to discuss precious and abundant time given.

So it very well may be true after all. The chill may be rescinding from the world's cold shoulders as Global Warming is melting it's way into icy waters of resistance.

There. This has been brought to you by God. I didn't think of it on my own!

Friday, August 17, 2007


At age 60 and having preached for 33 years, I am still, still, still, trying to enter into the zone of loving like Jesus loves. After all these years, I still don't get it. I am far too enmeshed in my own thrashing criticism, complaint, and suspicion issued toward others.

He says don't complain, and I am so judgmental I ruin His order. He says love does not take into account a wrong suffered. I seem to be a CPA when offended. I am ashamed at how far I miss the mark....embarrassingly ashamed.

Regarding sin, our lists would be flooded with those committed. Yet the one omitted, love, seems to race by us without awareness we sinned against His highest nature. Loving my neighbors? I don't even know half of them. While I like those I know all right, I don't see God's love pouring through me to them. Loving my enemies? I do genuinely pray for them by name that they receive enormous riches from God's kingdom, but I find I still don't really like them.

My perspective is we each have light years to grow in His call to love. How exciting! I speak it without condemning heart....else I would condemn myself. I speak it to awaken our awareness to treat humanityhood with the heart of Jesus. What an untapped, unspeakable wonder of a future we yet have if we gain even the slightest momentum in the urgent call of our Lord.

Love your neighbors and your enemies. And, should they happen to be one-in-the-same, then may they run into the perfect and happy face of God......yours.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


What's changed? Church differences and man's conflicting traditions consume brotherhood papers and quarterlies. But what's changed about the people? Surely repentance and obedience has brought about profound modification. Right? I mean, since you were introduced to Jesus, what has been revolutionized about you? Are you the same person you always were with, now, additional and possibly burdening church things to do? Or, has God done an extreme makeover on you?

My life has encountered abrupt adjustment. The following are only a few things different these days:
  • I want to read. Before conversion I would read only the Sports page...nothing else. Reading was a repulsive thought to me. All through grade school I lied to the teachers as I read very few of the books I said I did. Today, although I am a poorly-paced reader, I love to study. He has changed me to desire (hunger) to learn.
  • I want to give my money. Before, I was as cautious as the next guy about my pennies. As a kid, my family was below middle-class in America but middle class in our region, I guess. Either way, we didn't spend. God has taken me the opposite direction.
  • I moved from paranoidic pessimism to trusting optimism. Caution would again fit the former me. I thought positive thinking was a scam and that faith was a hoax. I regarded opportunity as always having a suspicious catch. Our God, however, can create something out of nothing and give life to the dead....and due to His call, I actually belief it.
  • I have confidence. Before, I was a complete neurotic. I didn't believe anything good would happen for/with/or to me. The short straw was always assumed. Not so today.
  • This will most likely be the biggest makeover for me: I learned to speak to people; I mean I learned to say Hello to everybody. Before, I couldn't. Those who know me today assume I was always an extrovert. Not! True, I've always been a friendly sort....among my friends. My range of friendliness had tall borders. I could not approach strangers with any confidence. Years after I graduated from the my little Dallas preaching school, a former deacon at White Rock (who supported me while I attended school) picked me up at DFW to be a guest speaker at an evangelism seminar for his congregation. He said something to me that I can still hear. Terry, I must tell you how happy and how proud I am of you. You are being used by God. To be honest Terry, I didn't think you would make it. When you were in school you were the most introverted person I ever met. An extreme makeover in me is, today, the ability to sit with total strangers, whether celebrity or pauper, and feel perfectly relaxed because of what I've learned from watching Jesus move about in his day.

What about you? What is a part of your testimony of transformation? The robust change going on in the church should be a wonderful witness that God is residing in the common people and making significant differences in our lives. Share with us where you've made adjustment (or He's made adjustment in you) as you witness His marvelous grace. Your tesitmony will inspire so many readers. Would you mind sharing a portion of your makeover?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Our daily pattern must be protected from the Robber. Jesus came that we might have life knowing the Thief comes to steal. Good life is often stolen. In my earlier years, little suited me. I seldom felt like I was good enough. I wished I could have been born somebody else. I envied those who had jobs they enjoyed. As some of you may have felt, I believed I was one who drew the short straw.

Jesus changes life. That's not Sunday School jargon, either. Authentic transformation of common, normal people is for today. The aches and pains of living continue, yet our perspective shifts so dramatically it appears humanity really can and should be born over. What makes the transition stick? What gives us the boost for enjoying the moment?

Dependence upon God's Spirit rather than ourselves is a start. His ways are much more exciting and useful. Coffee Shop critics of faith do not realize they, too, have been robbed by the Thief. Even those who are vocal against God's system privately wonder about Him when they close their eyes at night. Therefore, attitude adjustments count. When we develop a spirit of thankfulness, gratitude, and appreciation, the bitter dregs of disappointment shift to shadow. The sweet taste of appreciated blessings begin to dominate both our talk and our walk.

In 1979 I battled hyper-thyroid disease. It nearly claimed my life. I was so weak I could not shave, shower, and dress of a morning without taking naps in between each duty. To this day, some twenty-eight years later, I notice each morning I can do all three in a breeze. I love right now.

Take note of the things going well all around you. Speak of the good things. Shift from grump to grateful. True, there are many thugs and brats planted along your path intending to rob you of your life. I cheer you on to also notice the courtesies and kindnesses of each gentle day.....that put a smile on your face. My four year old grandson, Hayden, was overheard yesterday by his mother as he was singing in the bathroom, "Ourrrr Father is short in Heaven, Hal, oh why be thy name." What a singer!

Even when we don't get everything right and not everything comes out as we had hoped, we still have reason to keep on singing.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I don't pose such a question from a zone of pride. I'm not meaning to induce us to bragging for none of us are anything more than a nobody. But, I often ponder just how big and strong and effective the corporate body of Christ is today....and this includes us.

I wonder what terrible uprisings to humanity by humanity have been quenched and never reportable because Spirit-led believers behaved in faith in such terms that the corporate us pulled off a major coup and never knew it because we are properly blind to our enormity. I wonder how often evil is thrashed by goodness; yet it was such a big story no one could see its size.

Who takes a magnifying glass to the Rockies? No one, I assume. Our eyes surrender all thought of measurement and submit to enjoyment. Political issues, mine collapses (as well as bridges), and homicides rant day in and day out. Yet, last night I saw John McCoy receive his Eagle Scout Badge.

As I watched younger boy scouts participate in the ceremonies I wondered, once again, of the positive impact goodness is having on earth. I believe the kingdom of God is tied in on these things. From this to Girl Scouts to smiling greeters at Wal-Mart to gentle nurses putting in long hours, society has a lot going for it. Teachers, in schools and churches, who mold little children surely are having unknown impact upon Life....the Life connected to Christ.

For too long we have reduced God to buildings (even to specific, restricted brands of buildings) called church houses. I encourage you to ponder the next time you drive by American Airlines or Tyson Foods or Target or places like them to just wonder how much God has going on.

We are minor, but how can we fathom the size of Jesus being major? Be encouraged. Much awe is taking place.....all around.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


I was spending my annual week in baseball camp with the St. Louis Cardinal old timers two winters ago. We were in their Spring Training facility at Jupiter, Florida. I had just begun the infield drills when I sprinted over to retrieve a foul ball. I stepped in a hole and my knee twisted. Down I went. Oh, the pain was sorta strong but I did not want to acknowledge anything being awry.

My team manager loaded me up on a golf cart and Whitey Herzog drove me to the training room where the team physicians began probing. How badly I wanted them to put a wrap on it and send me back out, but no such luck. I could not walk and eventually had surgery.

However, I did have a good thing happen (it always does when watching for God to make His move). A present day player who had been a special friend for about four years passed through the training room while I was stretched out on the table. We always seemed to find at least one surprise occasion each camp where I would turn some corner and there he would be in Cardinal camp getting ready for the season.

He came over and sat on my table. Terry, what have you done? How special it was he would take the time to attend to me. I could tell he was disappointed for me. He stayed awhile, wished me luck, and then disappeared into the workout gym the next room over.

Thursday he was called up from Triple A Memphis to the Bigs; this time as an outfielder instead of a pitcher. He slugged a game-winning home run that night and then hit two home runs Saturday. Rick Ankiel had earlier faltered as a star big league pitcher. Rather than quitting, he fought his way back through the minor league ranks as a slugger and is now enjoying Disney-like heroics.

I am happy for Rick and especially happy God linked our paths these last few years.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Philip Yancey sent me a book a few years back by R. T. Kendall, The Anointing, which discusses three types of leaders: Yesterday's man (Saul), Today's man (Samuel) and Tomorrow's man (David). The account notes the treachery of today's man breaking from Yesterday's man and passing the Spirit baton to Tomorrow's man.

The church is often in this position needing to break from yesterday, today, in order to prepare for tomorrow's church. It's a tedious and, at times, wobbly tightrope.

Yesterday's man endures the pain of irrelevance, having known what it was to be used of God. And yet if he thinks he is still under the same anointing he once had, he still suffers by knowing in his heart of hearts that he is struggling with great effort to convince himself and others that he is still on the cutting edge of what God is doing today.

The pain of being tomorrow's man or woman is that you have to wait----sometimes much longer than you thought. The preparation is hard, God having to mold and shape you for your usefulness at the proper time.

The pain of being today's man or woman largely comes from the degree of courage required with the job. We never feel up to it. We may well feel like Gideon. The Lord addressed him as a "mighty warrior". His response: "How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family."

God has used me. I am moved-to-tears grateful. The day will come when I am no longer on the cutting edge (Year after year, I soberly question my ministry at Memorial as to whether I still am His man). I practice being all right with no longer being Today's Samuel as God raises up Tomorrow's Davids. I practice stepping aside. Our brotherhood lives in dense struggle because Yesterday's men (who were mightily and rightly used at one time) believe they are invincibly Today's men and Tomorrow's as well. Such might actually be the case for a rare few...but not many. Most of us are, or soon will be, has-beens. Saved has-beens, but has-beens just the same.

May God be glorified as we servants have the courage to step down just as bravely as when we first courageously stepped up. May we read His call on this matter for we all feel as Gideon...even when we are in our prime.....the least even while we serve.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


I'm a preacher. Therefore, it should be understood I love exaggeration! Furthermore, I think it quite fitting we lead out in such a terrain. What is the kingdom of God if it does not take routine life and explode it into the unpredictable regions of wonder? What do we think terms as joy inexpressible and exceedingly abundantly beyond all we can think or imagine reference? Reason? Understanding? Of course not. Jesus moves us to speechless, analyticaless, and chartless awe!

Wonder is the only way we can grasp the enormity of our outrageous reality. Our phrase, You'll never believe what God has done, is a statement of inexplainability. Fourth century Gregory of Nyssa said, Concepts create idols. Only wonder understands. Really, isn't it fairly accurate to note everyone is filled with one of two lifestyles: wander or wonder? Wander can't get comfortable with rote direction nor mundane purpose. Wonder, on the other hand, can't explain the wide-eyed wow of every moment.

Brian McLaren wrote, Only wonder understands. Jesus said the kingdom of God is like a man who plants seed and then waits for a while and then sees the seedlings rising to the sun and in the end, he "knows not how". It is a mystery and a wonder to him.

I like wonder! It shows up when I see the pavement of an early morning, when I note a special soul waiting at a bus stop, and when I turn to watch a bird soar simply being grateful my neck still swivels. Do this: pretend five things which do work don't. Make up a list; i.e. your garage door opener fails, your bank closed its doors overnight (never to reopen or explain why), your sense of hearing leaves you, your purse is stolen, and you find a dismissal slip from employment when you report to the office tomorrow morning. Having taken each of your five items for granted has left you immune to wonder. Therefore, I cheer you on to celebrate these few paragraphs you've just read because a significant number in our world are illiterate and another group is blind.

Marin Luther was on track when he said, If I could understand one grain of wheat, I would die of wonder. Open the eyes of your heart as to who, what, and where you are! Dive into the wonder of it all! Celebrate now!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Doug Ferguson is a word-artist. He writes newspaper columns. He would be about twenty years my junior, but we have been great friends since day one. As an aspiring writer for the Associated Press, his beginning beat called him to randomly stir up something (anything) to report from the Tulsa surroundings. One could tell he had a gift for writing; but that he knew he had not yet struck gold.

We are alike in many ways; he's a golf nut and I, too, have clubs. Maybe fifteen years ago I beefed up my erratic game by buying a sharp looking golf bag. The snazzy Wilson red, white, and blue had pockets which had pockets. I paid good money for it (maybe two weeks earlier) hoping I could at least look the golf part when I suited up. Lavish praises came from Doug one entire Saturday morning round regarding what a sharp looking new bag I had. I couldn't decide if he liked the bag that much or if there was little else about my game in which to make comment.

Afterwards our foursome stopped at a nearby convenience store. I was inwardly struggling as to whether to sacrifice my special (and brand new) Wilson bag. Decisiveness needed to be quick and accurate. While Doug was buying his Pepsi, I swapped my new bag for his lesser one and reloaded the clubs. My friend was both surprised and pleased. I could tell I had made the right decision.

Later on Doug struck gold being promoted to chief golf writer for AP. About twice a year UPS delivers surprise packages to my door from him. Everything from Masters' shirts and caps to British Open ties to new clubs come from this dear friend. Yesterday Doug passed along over $2000 worth of tickets for this week's PGA Tournament at Southern Hills.

Doug's nature would be to do all of this for me if I had never given him a thing. However, more than once, I have surely been glad I handed over my treasured new golf bag. It may have been pretty, but it has given so much back to me over the years. And, if truth be known, I feel that I played a major role in shaping Doug's career. No man can cover golf's Major Championships week after week and year after year with a rattly golf bag.

The next time you read a golf story which has Doug Ferguson AP beneath the headlines, you just remember it was me who got this man his job!

Sunday, August 05, 2007


Our world is at war. It's not the terrorists against America. It's not the Democrats versus the Republicans. Neither is it the kids against the parents. There is a much bigger battle and we are in the center of it: the seen world against the unseen. We become frightened over Iran but indifferent over our personal spiritual blindness. As long as we feel fairly comfortable minus any great danger, life seems to be going well.

We do not see our days as extraordinary. Yet, they are! We have foolishly bought into mundane and hassle as normal. They aren't! Our lives have become a dime a dozen. They aren't! One of the things which saddens me is to find much of humanity sitting at the back of the bus in life. We've lost our drive. Negative experience and bad breaks have barked us into a corner in which we've believed we've learned we should obey their bossy voices.

Jesus, however, came to set the captives free. Why do we, then, volunteer to be arrested? Why do we dumb our lives down to fit the status quo of average? Why is it we have lost our backbone for life? One main reason seems to be we have misplaced the fact we live in a truly great mystery.

C. S. Lewis wrote, The value of ....myth is that it takes all the things we know and restores to them the rich significance which has been hidden by "the veil of familiarity". John Eldridge follows Lewis' comment with, You are not what you think you are. There is glory to your life that your Enemy fears, and he is hell-bent on destroying that glory before you act on it.

You have been targeted by the invisible enemy to be reduced to mundane existence. Jesus, however, targets you for "resurrection-kind-of-power" life. May we inform our hearts to awaken to the call of really living. My we not allow anyone to short-sheet our awesome destination of living life to the maximum!

Friday, August 03, 2007


When the War ended in the 40's a struggling Tokyo company made efforts to rebuild its business. However their rice cooker didn't seem to fare well in the marketplace. To keep their heads above water the technicians repaired short-wave radios for a time. Eventually the company discovered what it was created to be, renamed itself, and took off. The name of the company? Sony.

Don't be discouraged as you move about in the kingdom barely keeping afloat by faith. The day will come when you will turn a corner and there will be your Sony. God is the One with the gift bag. He hands them out and you want to be positioned to receive. There is that special niche carved just for you. Do the little things well. Repair the short-wave radios for a time and do your job well. God will be rewarding you for endurance so important to ministering servants.

Don't quit. Don't give up. Don't close your eyes. Don't sigh in frustration. Awe is on it's way.....a whole lot bigger than Sony!

Thursday, August 02, 2007


When Henri Nouwen shifted from a twenty year career of teaching at Notre Dame, Yale, and Harvard to living as a caregiver in Canada in a house for mentally handicapped adults, his notoriety completely vanished. Those he was assisting could not read so they had never heard of his many books. They hadn't gone to school. Thus, they could not be impressed with his academic credentials. When he offered meat to one of his assistants, a handicapped man said to him, Don't give him meat, he doesn't eat meat, he's a Presbyterian.

Nouwen found himself reduced to sudden and frightful nothingness, except for the dependent value of the moment. It forced him to discover his true identity. Referencing his new living quarters and friendship circle, Nouwen wrote, These broken, wounded, and completely unpretentious people forced me to let go of my relevant self---the self that can do things, show things, prove things, build things---and forced me to reclaim that unadorned self in which I am completely vulnerable, open to receive and give love regardless of any accomplishments.

The pressure is on us to get the pressure off of us. This would seem to come about by reduction of self; not escalation. We seem to be sluggish from "The Ladders": social or career or financial or fame. What if we could self-dismantle? What if we could learn the sweet joy of appreciation, gratitude, simplicity, contentment....unpretentiousness?

It could be we are the ones handicapped. It may be the mentally handicapped have a grip on reality which defies us. Don't we spend a significant amount of time trying to conquer before we are conquered? Wouldn't it be wonderful to like right now? Reflect on Nouwen's next statement: I am telling you all this because I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self.

Experience tells me vulnerability opens the weirdest and most wonderful doors, but most leaders waste time by trying to enter through windows of opportunity using "Ladders" to success.

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Vulnerability who?
Well then, come on in!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


There are two kinds of sinners: both are ruined. One knows it while the other is clueless. Both, however, are wreckage in need of the blood of Jesus. Guilty, ruined, and broken are not at all what I expected to surface as of major importance in ministry. For my first few years my pulpit was more like a fox hole I used to separate me from "them". I would toss sermonic hand grenades at the guilty sort and duck as they returned heavy artillery fire throughout the remainder of the week. I knew one thing: I wasn't like "them".

It was a shock to my system to realize I was, indeed, worse than "them". I was forced to park my high-horse at the rail and dismount. My judgment of "them" was not necessarily faulty. My assessment of myself was skewed. The church and I, the brotherhood and I, we were all in this quagmire together. Several things arose to importance when I encountered such a disappointing, yet necessary, discovery.
  • As Jesus left heaven to experience earth, I needed to leave my self-appointed perch to experience the truth about "us".
  • It dawned on me how desperate I was for His grace and mercy. In turn the flock was as needy to exchange the same with one another.
  • I began to notice the beauty of Jesus from this ugly pit. I had never noted his gentleness before.
  • The Word jumped out with redefined meaning.
  • I found myself ruined of any defense or explanation. If I am going to breathe in the church I must live; yet not I, but Jesus in me. My proud stance turned out to be a facade and it had been shattered.
  • Brokenness is what every young leader must experience. Otherwise, he'll live as a thorn to God's people always accusing, always surmising, always judging, always condemning; mistakenly stroking self as to assumed importance.

If you still find yourself believing the brotherhood would be stronger if it held values more like you, you are in the way of God's progress. If we are to be of anything good, it has to be because of the lively and effective rescue of Jesus and no other.

Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.

May "they" become "us" as "we" can do nothing apart from "Him".